Allen Robinson already had committed to Penn State when Michigan State placed a call toward the end of his senior year of high school. The Spartans wanted Robinson to play basketball, though.
"I was already signed to come here and play football, so I wasn't too interested," the Penn State receiver said. "I was already confident in my decision to come here and play football."
As he did three years ago, Robinson will face another decision regarding his future this winter. The junior, who's poised to shatter Penn State's single-season receiving records, will be eligible for next year's NFL draft, which he might be wise to pursue.
Stan Hixon, Penn State's receivers coach, has called Robinson a certain future pro who ranks among the best receivers he has coached over the past 27 years. The scouting service nfldraftscout.com ranks Robinson as the No. 4 receiver of this class and a potential first- or second-round pick.
And last week, former Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin did an interview with the website theschoolphilly.com in which he predicted that this would be Robinson's "last year in a Penn State uniform."
"Obviously, he's a big target, which everybody is looking for, and he runs well," said Gil Brandt, the Dallas Cowboys' former vice president of player personnel who now works for NFL.com. "He runs good routes, has really good hands, and I thought he played extremely well against Michigan. But I'm against guys coming out early. It helps their career if they're more successful [in college]."
Robinson said Tuesday that he will address the NFL issue with Hixon, head coach Bill O'Brien and his parents after the season. Asked why he might return for his senior year, Robinson cited his teammates and his degree in telecommunications.
"One of the reasons would be to finish what I started with my teammates," he said. "It's like a brotherhood with these guys. We've come this far playing together. But first and foremost would be to get my degree."
In the meantime, Robinson has a month to continue posting video-game numbers, beginning with Saturday's trip to Minnesota. With four games remaining, Robinson is on pace to finish the season with 98 catches for 1,445 yards, which would topple both record-book numbers.
Robinson is averaging 130.4 receiving yards per game, which is second nationally and nearly half of Penn State's total. He needs just 42 yards to break Bobby Engram's single-season record for receiving yards (1,084).
With 66 catches in eight games, Robinson could break the record (77) he set last year by more than 20. He is the only Big Ten receiver with more than 60 catches and 1,000 yards.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said that Robinson makes it look "so effortless," and Illinois coach Tim Beckman jokingly pleaded with Robinson to go easy on his young cornerbacks. Teammate Kyle Carter said that he and his fellow tight ends "talk all the time" about getting more catches but understand why they aren't.
"You can't even get mad when he's getting 150 yards a game," Carter said.
O'Brien has called Robinson his team's best offensive player, saying that "nothing really surprises me with Allen." But O'Brien didn't know Robinson five years ago.
At Orchard Lake St. Mary's Prep in Michigan, Robinson was a 5-7, 125-pound freshman who initially played running back. A sophomore-year growth spurt helped stretch his frame to its current 6-3 but also caused him to miss that season of football because of back problems.
Robinson first played receiver his junior year, developing into a Division-I recruit. A Penn State relationship with Rob Bolden, his former high school quarterback, helped bring him to State College.
Initially, recruiting analysts considered Robinson a project who needed to develop speed and playmaking ability after the catch. Robinson made that a priority during the offseason, developing one of the nation's best cutback moves that has him averaging nearly 16 yards per catch. Robinson said those plays are products of instinct coupled with muscle memory.
"It's kind of hard to practice what happens in a game, like where to cut," he said. "So many different things can go wrong. In the offseason I did practice making some cuts. Some cuts are harder to make than others. I tried to practice some of those cuts, then muscle memory helps you to make those cuts."
Basketball, which he played throughout high school, helped with some of those movements. Robinson averaged nearly 24 points per game as a senior, prompting the interest from Michigan State. Football, though, took precedence.
"It wasn't too much of a decision at all," Robinson said. "I knew where my future I accepted it and went with it. I was comfortable with that."
ROBINSON'S RECORD RUN
Penn State's Allen Robinson is on pace to finish the season with 98 catches for 1,445 yards, which would shatter his own 2012 receptions record. Here are the top five Penn State seasons in terms of catches.
RECEIVER, CATCHES, YARDS, YEAR
1. Allen Robinson, 77, 1,013, 2012
2. Bobby Engram, 63, 1,084, 1995
3. O.J. McDuffie, 63, 977, 1992
4. Terry Smith, 55, 846, 1991
5. Derrick Williams, 55, 529, 2007
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